Be engaged with NOWCastSA

If you haven’t heard of NOWCastSA and you’re in San Antonio, then you should definitely check it out. I had only seen glimpses and an occasional retweet of NOWCastSA for the past few months, but only until about two months ago did I fully realize the amount of coverage NOWCast is doing in San Antonio.

And, I’ve got to say, it is absolutely heart warming to know that there is a small group of people dedicated “to promote and facilitate an inclusive civic conversation”, especially with the recent rise in national media attention on San Antonio. NOWCastSA does not simply post videos of events. In real time, they video capture physical moments of civic engagement at a variety of community events and complement those live streams with blogs, tweets, a virtual conversation.

Fortunately, I had the pleasure of meeting NOWCastSA’s managing director, Charlotte-Anne Lucas, the last night of 3 Day Startup hosted at Geekdom. After a whirlwind weekend of tweeting and retweeting, Charlotte-Anne and I finally were face-to-face. At this point, I admittedly was not entirely aware of the scope of NOWCast’s outreach or what exactly they did for the community as a whole. I knew they had live-streamed a few Geekdom events, but that was basically the extent of my knowledge.

When I finally met Charlotte-Anne, she reminded me of one of my great mentors at UNCFSP last summer, a great-hearted firecracker. Right then, I knew I would be reading anything and everything under the sun about what she is doing with NOWCast. To say the least, I was excited.

I spent the next couple of weeks delving deep into the site and taking opportunities to be part of the process, watching the live streams and putting out a tweet or two about an event they were filming. Nothing major, but I felt like I was participating, even if minimally, in my community. And what a wonderful feeling that is!

Two events in particular stand out to me because of my bias towards all things education. I watched the live streams of College Signing Day at St. Mary’s University (my alma mater) and a dialogue per the Department of Education’s Together for Tomorrow initiative at CafeCollege. Being able to watch these events with the potential of an online community dialogue truly inspires me.

I imagine that parents, teachers, students and even policymakers alike are interested in watching these events. While watching these live streams, I found myself wanting to engage with all of these different stakeholders. However, the engagement was relatively low. I felt like a virtual bystander when I had hoped to be a virtual participant.

Of course, that’s the age old question and the most challenging part: engagement. And not just engagement, thoughtful engagement. I’m guilty of simply retweeting a link to the live streams without commenting on the dialogue occurring at the event. Within the past year, I’ve noticed that Twitter in particular has become a safe haven for everyone who is fed up with Facebook. The ramifications of this have altered the types of conversations taking place on Twitter, which I still think is a useful tool for community dialogue. Regardless though, I have been pondering how NOWCast can foster and perpetuate the dialogue online.

For now, I recommend anyone reading this to go to their site and become involved. My summary of what is taking place with NOWCast does not do it justice. See it, read it, hear it with your own eyes and ears. In a city that has one of the best economies and highest drop out rates during this social media boom and political polarization, it is absolutely necessary to become civically engaged. If you’re in San Antonio, do so via NOWCastSA. If you’re not, either come to this great city or be engaged with your own community.

Engage with @NOWCastSA. Be involved.